Raquel and I went to the weekend Philippine Fiesta 2005 last Sunday. It was the first time we’ve ever been to the annual Philippine Fiesta festivities held at Laverton (west of Melbourne) so we didn’t really know what to expect. Regardless, we went to meet up with the rest of the gang who were going and to see what the fuss was all about.
We drove to the event and discovered when we got there that unless we had a pre-paid car pass, we couldn’t park in the parking area of the event venue, The Philippine Community Centre. And the streets nearby were all filled with parked cars mostly illegally parked. We even saw traffic enforcers on the site placing parking violation tickets on the park cars’ windshield wipers. Luckily, we were able to find a quiet spot to park a couple of blocks away.
The “Fiesta” reminded me of school foundation day fairs we had in my youth. There were a lot of stalls, a giant slide and an octopus ride. Too bad there wasn’t a caterpillar ride. I miss those. There was also a stage at one side where they had an on-going programme of some people dancing and singing before the big-named Pinoy guest stars (Aga Mulach, Edu Manzano, Bayani Agbayani and Nikki Valdez) arrive in the afternoon.
The entrance fee was AU$7.00 per person. Along with a ticket to gain entrance was a raffle ticket (of course!) and fliers for services typically used by Pinoy expats: money transfer to the Philippines, sending packages to the Philippines and buying of Philippine imported goods.
We didn’t immediately saw where the other guys were so we strolled around the fair grounds and looked at all the stalls in the fiesta. There were lots of stalls that sold Pinoy dishes that I missed after being in Australia for two years without flying home. There were tapsilog, pork barbecue, toron (fried banana in thin edible wrap), halo-halo (desert with mixed sweet food stuff and crushed ice), pansit palabok (noodle dish), ube (yam), leche flan, chicharon (deep fried crunchy pig skin and fat), pisbol (fish balls on a skewer including the traditional sweet and/or hot sauce), tortang alimango (fried crab meat mixed with egg), and lots more fried food.
Unfortunately, Raquel and I had already stopped eating pork or beef (or any other mammalian meat) for health and other reasons. That meant that even though I was salivating for a plate of tapsilog (fried dried beef strips served with one fried egg and garlic fried rice — yeah fried fried fried!), I had to give it a miss. I had to settle for the chicksilog which was like the tapsilog except served with small chicken drumsticks instead of the beef tapa (we still eat poultry meat and seafood).
Also, even though we wanted to, we didn’t buy/eat barbecue, longanisa, chicharon (well, maybe not chicharon), and pansit palabok. Still, it’s good we were able to enjoy the halo-halo and toron.
The other stalls belonged to business that offered services like Western Union (for sending money home), TFC (The Filipino Channel – shows ABS-CBN programmes 24/7 via dish, I believe), Ayala Land (in case you were interested in investing in a condominium in the Philippines) to name a few.
After looking at the stalls, we decided to look for the nearest toilet in case we ever need it. Our search led us to the actual Philippine Community Centre building which reminds me of St Andrew’s School in Paranaque where I went. In the rooms that resembled classrooms were some exhibits on Philippine art and culture. After looking around, we found the toilets and another entrance to the whole compound (take note, as this foreshadows something that will happen later).
We returned to the main fair grounds and met up with the rest of the gang who were gathered around near the stalls that sold the tapsilog and halo-halo. There were a lot of picture taking of course. Since the group is steadily growing, it’s becoming harder and harder to fit everybody into one photo shot. Not to mention the ruckus we cause every time we tried to get everybody in a shot.
After some time, we moved to a semi-secluded area beside the Philippine Community Centre building where there were benches which were shaded by the trees. We continued our chatting there while we decided on whether or not to call it a day.
While we were basically messing around in our temporary tambayan (hang-out), we noticed a minor commotion at the alternative entrance I noted earlier. Mike shouted, “Si Aga!” in jest. And when we looked at the entrance, it was indeed Aga Mulach!
I have to embarrassingly admit that I took off immediately with my camera to get a shot of Aga. But it was more for my folks and family back home than for me. Really! You must believe me!
Ahem. Anyway, I whipped out my camera and took a quick shot at Aga as he walked to our general direction. In fact, to go to the backstage from the alternative entrance, the guests would have to pass right in front of the benches where we were stationed. So by the time my camera was ready to take another shot, Aga had already passed by me and all I could shoot was his back. Darn.
Fortunately, the others were similarly armed with cameras and they were able to take snapshots of everybody that passed. Lina was able to take a good shot of Edu. In fact, Edu even stopped to talk with Lina a bit while she was taking his photo. Alma on the other hand was able to take a good photo of Bayani. She was actually more interested in Bayani (a comedian) than Aga (who was considered a heart-throb). I was also able to take a picture of Nikki but I don’t really knew who she was so it wasn’t such a big deal to me.
They tell me that if I was watching TFC, I’d know who Nikki Valdez was. Ah, well. I admit that I’m really out of touch with Philippine pop culture nowadays. It makes me wonder if TFC’s $40+ monthly fee is worth it just to be able to keep up with what’s current in the Philippines. I’m more tempted to get cable for the Discovery Channel, Cartoon Network and CNN, to be honest. I’ll just decide on that at a later time.
Anyway, after our close encounter with the Pinoy celebrities, we went back out to the fair grounds and watched a little bit of the programme that had the celebrities on the stage. They were all very funny. I realised that I do miss that cheesy Pinoy brand of humour.
We didn’t wait for the show to end though. After a few minutes of watching and photo taking of the stage, we left for home. Our car was still where we left it, which was good. When we got home, I was so tired that I just laid straight on the couch. Tiring, sure. But at least it was all good fun.